On the Line: A Cell Phone-Free Workplace?

Last Updated Dec 21, 2009 11:34 AM EST

Cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in America, according to the CDC. That's why practically every workplace these days is "Tobacco-free." Anti-smoking zealots like New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a former smoker himself, now want to extend tobacco bans into public parks. He'll probably get his way, since few complain when government programs and subsequently, new workplace policies, try to save people from themselves.

Now that the war against cigarettes is winding down, what will the public health crusaders target next? Fatty foods? Sugary sodas?
Try cell phones.

Although no state has successfully banned all cell phone use while driving yet, 21 currently prohibit cell phone use by novice drivers and 19 states have banned texting by drivers.

Another possible regulation, which is only brewing in Maine and San Francisco thus far, would require a Surgeon General-type warning on cell phones or their packages about the risk of brain cancer caused by electromagnetic radiation. For the record, both the Federal Trade Commission and the wireless industry's trade group argue all cell phones sold to consumers in the United States are safe.

Cell phone use has only been widespread since the 1990s so the science is inconclusive. But some scientists argue America's 270 million cell phone subscribers have reason to worry. The WTO announced last October that its long-term study found a link between cell phones and brain tumors.
In other words, being tied to your cell at work could be hazardous to your health.

Does that mean you have a right to refuse using a cell phone on the job? Can your coworkers complain about being exposed to "second-hand cell phone radiation?"

How far will this go? Share your predictions below.

  • Stefan Deeran

    Stefan Deeran helps environmental nonprofits and green businesses develop and execute their new media campaigns. He also publishes The Exception magazine, a nonpartisan news platform serving his home state of Maine. You can follow him on Twitter @RStefanDeeran or via Facebook.